Campbell rejects 32-county talks call

Gregory Campbell
Gregory Campbell
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A LEADING unionist has rejected a call by Sinn Fein for a 32-county “national discussion” on reconciliation, saying the ongoing peace process was a matter for those in Northern Ireland alone.

The DUP’s Gregory Campbell was reacting to a weekend speech by Sinn Fein’s national chairman Declan Kearney in Cork.

In an address to the party’s annual summer school on Saturday, Mr Kearney talked of a “new stage in the peace process”, building “increased mutual respect and trust among our people north and south”.

Mr Kearney said Sinn Fein was prepared to “step outside our historical and political comfort zones and embrace new thinking” to maintain the progress.

However, the chairman expressed concerns that the current situation normalises partition.

“We can acquiesce in a new status quo which normalises partitionism, sectarianism, division and fear and do nothing; or we can decide that what we have is still not good enough and – in the context of the Good Friday Agreement – discuss what we can do to bring about more change and progress,” he said.

East Londonderry MP Mr Campbell said there was “nothing new” in the speech and that Mr Kearney and Sinn Fein “still had a long way to go to get the message” on the majority support for partition.

“It sounds to me that even after some five years since the current devolved structures were put in place and 18 years since the ceasefire, they still don’t get the message.

“Unionists are not interested in a Sinn Fein concept of any national discussions.

“What unionists are not just interested in, but want to build on, is how we build the nation that we are a part of, which is the United Kingdom,” he said.

“The fact that that nation allows people who are of an Irish republican identity to retain their nationality – that’s something that they should work towards rather than trying to change ours,” added Mr Campbell.